Entity Type:
Smythe, Francis Sydney (1900-1949)
Smythe wasn’t the first person to exploit the commercial possibilities of writing about his mountaineering holidays, but he was the first to be consistently successful. His breakthrough proved it was possible to make a living out of climbing publishing and photography and paved the way for future Boningtons. His output was prolific (29 books in 22 years) and his influence is discernible in the format of mountain-orientated photographic books down to this day, while his mountaineering travelogues have inspired countless imitators since. His reputation amongst his peers suffered from overexposure in the media of the day, however, exemplified by Raymond Greene’s most exquisite put-down, “Physically on mountains, intellectually in his books, Frank always tried to reach heights which were just a little beyond his powers, great though these were.” Smythe was more than just a self-publicist however, his literary and photographic ability alone would have come to naught had he not accomplished many fine ascents in the Alps, as well as pioneering in the Himalya and Canada. His oxygenless solo attempt on Everest in 1933, when he reached 28,186 feet has been described as, 'The most notable performance until Reinhold Messner made his solo ascent nearly fifty years later.'
Biographical information is kindly supplied by Colin Wells.
2006-08-06 00:00:00
Maxine Willett
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Smythe, Francis Sydney (1900-1949)